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The Brooklyn Bridge is the Ultimate Walking Bridge


A customer “was wondering if the Brooklyn bridge is really crowded on the night of December 31, and if we will have a spot for sure on the bridge to watch the several fireworks at midnight?”

We have gotten soft in modern America.  We often take the car for even the shortest distances.  Back in the nineteenth century, even in the first third of the twentieth century, people were willing to walk incredibly long distances.  They could not afford the nickel fare for the horse-drawn, cable-drawn, or electrified trolley, the omnibus, the elevated railroad, or the subway.  Middle-class people had that privilege.  The masses walked everywhere.

 The Queensboro Bridge that opened in1909 was the first bridge designed with the automobile in mind.  It also accommodated the trolleys and subways as well.  As late as 1937 when the Bronx-Whitestone (Queens) Bridge opened to the public, 60% of the walkway was set aside for pedestrians. Subsequent renovations have made the bridge available only for the automobile.

The Brooklyn Bridge was designed to handle both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.  Vehicular traffic then consisted of horse-drawn conveyances of various kinds.  Also, the trolley operated as well.  From the day the bridge opened in 1883 until 1891, pedestrians paid a toll of a penny. Tens of thousands of people walked across the bridge daily to get to work.

I became involved with the Brooklyn Bridge because of my father. My father would walk across the Brooklyn Bridge when he could not sleep at night. He would tell me how his mother had to pay a penny to cross the bridge which was a toll bridge until 1911.” Horse-riders had to pay a nickel and horse-drawn vehicles a dime. ABOVE ALL, the Brooklyn Bridge was designed to be a WALKING bridge. It has appeared in time travel stories as a TIMELESS WONDER. William Shatner as Captain Kirk romanced Joan Collins in the original Star Trek series.  They gazed at the Brooklyn Bridge and the stars in the episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” written by Harlan Ellison.


In 1892, New Yorkers celebrated the 400th anniversary of the Italian explorer’s Caribbean landing for seven full days. Columbus Week was a completely decked out party with a Hudson River naval parade, Brooklyn Bridge fireworks, a music festival, and the first Columbus Day Parade, which consisted of 12,000 public school children, 5,500 Catholic school children, military drill squads, and 29 marching bands. A quarter of million people walked over the bridge that day!  That is nothing compared to the thousands that walk over the bridge every day.  Our expert guides will assure you a most excellent view of the fireworks.

NYC Walks Blog 40 The Brooklyn Bridge is the Ultimate Walking Bridge © 2018 by Dr. Philip Ernest Schoenberg

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